There are a few reasons that employees leave companies and some of them may not be voluntary in nature. The exits that you were unable to plan for will mostly be the ones that cause you sleepless nights. What if one of your star employees suddenly resigned? What if a very successful leader in an important role suddenly decided to leave the company? I am sure your main concerns would be around the potential impact to the business and how could that have been avoided? Was it avoidable? Will others follow?
The Exit Interview is a great way to gather feedback on employees’ decisions to leave the company and what next steps they are planning to further their careers elsewhere. This structured interview can greatly support your ability to narrow down the reasons for the exit and whether you have any large internal issues to address to avoid more people leaving the company.
- You could choose to use this as a survey which the departing employees complete independently. I would however recommend that you ask these questions as part of an exit interview conducted in person as it offers the opportunity to ask follow-up questions to clarify answers to make sure you really understand the factors that led to the decision to leave the company.
- There is a good chance that the departing employee may not tell you the truth. Sometimes they are afraid you may give them a bad reference in future if a prospective employer called you up. Other times they may be worried about being the whistle-blower on an existing organizational issue in terms of potential impact on any friends they still have at the organization. It may be worth considering the use of an outsourced vendor to gather feedback from departing employees before or just after they have left.
- Do take the time to review feedback received from exit interviews to determine whether you or anyone else at your company may need to take actions to improve a situation, revise benefits, improve communications to employees on specific topics etc. These actions may be exactly what is needed to avoid other employees from leaving for similar reasons.
- Mind confidentiality around these interviews. Be sure to be honest with the departing employee on who will get to know about the information shared and stick to the agreement.
- Talk to those employees who remain with the company and make sure they understand how much you value their continued service and loyalty to the team/organization. When a prominent person leaves – whether a subject matter expert or a much-liked leader – people may start wondering about their own careers and consider leaving too. Taking employee retention actions and communicating especially to those in key roles will go a long way towards putting people’s minds at rest.
It is never easy when you lose good employees and respected leaders and experts to the competition. The best you can do is make sure you learn from the event and take the actions you need to avoid recurrence of an unplanned exit.